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Berenice Oceguera English 300 Jeanne Guerin Essay One 11 February 2011 It’s All about Family Growing up in a close family unit has impacted the person I am today. My parents are immigrants from Mexico who moved to the United States with the hopes of a brighter future for my sister and me. I can still remember what fills my memories with happiness and sorrow. Many times I have been ashamed to talk about my childhood of poverty because for most people living in my community even the bare necessities were hard to afford. Many of the families in my community started with nothing and worked countless hours to have something.

In my eyes, they have defined success. In Mexican culture the expectation of working and socializing together is a key component of society, and has a basis in the strong ties formed within the family. I have always felt close to my family, and connections with my friends and neighbors. We all shared the same ethnicity, culture and heritage. My memories still take me back to those days living in that small crowded house on Fitzgerald St. All the houses in the neighborhood were built close to one another; they were all different and varied distinctly in color.

Even though all the run down looking houses looked abandoned, they were full of joy and laughter. Mexican culture is known for the unified nature of the family. I was part of a family of four, but we shared our home with my uncle and his family of four. My single aunts and uncles also seemed to live there in seasons, always coming and going. My grandparents occasionally stayed with us too. It was a busy household, and common to have different generations living together in my culture. The only peace and quiet I ever got was around three and four in the morning, some kind of movement was always going on.

The house wasn’t that big, but roomy enough to put a roof over all our heads. My community felt like a Mexican village where all the roads where closely connected and my entire neighborhood knew each other and socialized. I felt safe and protected around all the people I knew. I only have one sister, but all the kids in my community felt like relatives to me. We played soccer just about every day at the nearby park. On the weekends there were always gatherings. It seemed like there was always a birthday party to celebrate. We would gather at a family or friends house and contribute food to share with everyone.

Those memories are distant to me now, and I miss them dearly. I miss the joy of being so close to those I love. Being close to others reminded me of the days I lived in Mexico, where I knew and played with all the kids in my pueblo. P3 I never felt like I wasn’t cared for. The kindness, support, friendship, and love extended to me and my family during this difficult time has really touched my heart. I felt like I belonged in my family community. My grandparents live in Mexico, but I still saw them frequently. Their visits provided me with love and support I needed to be entirely happy.

I remember when I loved making the tortillas for my grandfather’s dinner every time he was in town. They would come for the holidays and special occasions that happened quite often. The family that surrounds me is gigantic! My mother has six sisters and two brothers and my father has five brothers and three sisters, who also lived in the same area. Birthday parties were like a giant celebration due to the size of my family. Every year the biggest celebration is my great grandmother’s birthday, who recently turned 85. It is the only event that brings our entire family together. As I grew up, my close family community changed.

I moved on to middle school, and life as I knew it had a different feel to it. My childhood playing companions drifted away as they got involved in gangs and drugs. Life wasn’t so pleasant like it once was. As a young child I would have never understood adult life. But as I grew up, I began to see a new perspective of the community, things that I was blind to as a child. Now, I could step outside my front door, look across the street and see a house where someone was shot. I could take a walk in a nearby street and see abandoned housed inhabited by gangsters and drug dealers. Walking down the main streets was the worst of all.

I would come across all the drunks hanging out around liquor stores. Many men would honk and whistle in inappropriate ways. I felt so alienated from the neighborhood I once knew, emotionally violated in a way. I was just a young girl trying to safely get to the nearby middle school. In no way did I look like the prostitutes hanging around the hotels. I was in constant fear of my own safety. One evening, my mom’s brother took me out for some ice cream. As we were driving I heard these loud, ear breaking bangs. I looked over at my uncle, with his face of frustration and furry driving away as fast as he could.

I blankly asked “what’s happening? ”, yet silence was his only answer. I knew exactly what was going on. We were getting shot at, without the importance that I was in the car. Their focus was my uncle, but I never understood why. These eye opening scenarios changed the view of my community. I didn’t feel safe anymore. My older cousins that I looked up to so dearly were now strangers. I remember I commented once, “Why do you guys dress like that? ” All they responded to me, “It’s cool! ” But that’s not what my mom told me. They wore these baggy dickies jeans and shirts that fit them to their knees, which were usually blue.

My primas, which is Spanish for female cousins, would wear dark makeup. Their eyebrows looked like tattoos, dark and so artificial. I wondered if I had to do that too. They only did it to fit in, because everyone else was doing it. This wasn’t the same community I grew up in. I wasn’t going to pretend to be someone I am not. The people changed, drifted away. At times I felt like my family wasn’t united anymore. I still love my family, but at age fourteen I realized that’s not the life for me. I moved to Sacramento with my aunt and uncle, away from that predominant Hispanic community.

I was not the kind of girl to fall into the death trap of gangs, drugs or teenage pregnancy. Here, I found myself, the person I felt I was meant to be. I met amazing people at Bella Vista High School. I focused in school to do my best. Eventually my parents joined me in Sacramento, in the pursuit of overcoming poverty. I learned from all those around me and like who I have become, in comparison to others in my family. I am inspired by their determination to work as hard as they do. My tight family has given me the inspiration to overcome all those hardships put in my path, and by showing me their love and support. Word Count: 1225

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